Once saved we should spend our lives praising and blessing God for His mercy, but we are left in a world of evil and hatred – a world in which we are strangers. So why – why does God not simply transport a believer immediately to his heavenly home? Why is a Christian left to face a life of such hardship, disappointments, pain and failure?
Jesus gave a glimpse into this anomaly when He prayed for those that were His. He prayed that God would not take them out of the world, and even told them that, in this world you will have tribulation. But why for God’s sake.. why? Well yes! It is for God’s sake – so that the Father might be glorified in them. You are living this life in order that through your life, God may be glorified! But how, you ask. How can God be glorified in my life – how is He glorified through my hardships, disappointments, my pain and failure? I would be better off to be dead, you argue. I would be better to be with the Lord. Be careful Christian, you may get your wish. God may take you at your word!
Remember, this life is the training ground for the next. This is the point – after a moment of saving grace follows a lifetime of sanctifying grace – before glorifying grace. Don’t forfeit the opportunities that God has given you. Every day of your life is a gift from Him. Every day is an opportunity for you to fulfil your life’s work. You only have one chance to mature in the Christian life.. to grow in grace. You only have one chance to be faithful to be obedient – and that time is now.
Christ said: I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do, and He sat down at the right hand of the Father. Paul said: I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, and there is laid up for Paul a crown of righteousness. Have you finished the work that God gave you to do? Have you finished the course that God has given you? Have you been a good and faithful servant? Have you kept the faith?
Every future day of your life that remains is an opportunity, not a curse. Paul was given a revelation of what the sanctified life entailed, and Paul strained until the very end of His life to attain to it.. until he could cry: It is not I that live, (in this body) but Christ living in me. Gal.2:20. Can you say that – can you say you have finished the course? Can you honestly say that you lived your life through Christ’s work in you? Can you truly say that in thought, word, deed and motive, Christ lives in me? Well, if not, don’t fret or feel that you have missed your opportunity. God still has work to do in your life, just as He still has work to do in mine.
Sanctifying grace transforms a believer into the likeness of Christ. Sanctifying grace uses every hardship, every disappointment, each pain and failure. Maturing, sanctifying grace takes ugly scars from the cross of your life and beautifies them – but the measure of how you meet your trials, is the measure with which you will gain – and you can only meet them victoriously in Christ, as Christ lives in you. You can only meet them by grace… through faith … in Christ.
So how do you achieve the spiritual command to remain in Christ and He in you? Well, here is my little thought! When you were saved, the Holy Spirit came to indwell you forever and He desires to live Christ’s life in you. You were changed from your dead, hard dryness – from your bitter brutal worldly ways.. Your being was like a dry sponge, saturated with pure, clear, refreshing, hydrating water – and, in a little way, that’s like the start of the Christian life.. being in-dwelt by the Spirit. The sponge is in the water- and the water is in the sponge. There can be no leakage – for water flows in and around in full, constant measure.
In a similar manner, when you are in Christ and He is in you, every aspect of life is touched by Him.. for He is that life-giving Spirit. He is the Spirit of truth, Who indwells all who trust in the Lord Jesus. Some years ago I spent one whole summer just reflecting on abiding in Christ. Christ in me and I in Him. Jesus said: you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. John 14:20. Every waking moment and as I drifted to sleep I pondered in these words: Christ in me and I in Him; abide in Me and I in you; as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine – neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
As I drove the car; as I filled my shopping trolley; as I washed the dishes. As I worked and walked – as I sat and stood. In every aspect of my life, I just meditated on what it really meant to be in Christ. Christ in me and I in Him. Pondering on abiding in Christ and He in me changed my entire life. I realised that my mind and motive, actions and attitudes were to be replaced with His mind and His motive, His actions, and His attitudes.. until this life that I now live in this body is no longer me that lives, but Christ living in me and through me.
Nothing that flows from my self-life can ever be accepted by the Father, but all that Christ does in me and through me.. is pleasing to God. I challenge you to do the same just for a month. Just spend one month with every thought, word, deed and motive Christ-centred – and you will find those few days will be a life-changing experience. And if you find it difficult, here is my advice to you – pray daily and pray continuously that He will change your heart. Search the Word to discover how to let His mind be in you – until Christ is kept at the very centre of your heart - Christ before me; Christ behind me; Christ beside me; Christ beneath me; Christ above me; Christ within me and I in Him – to live and to work and to do His good pleasure through me.
This is the sanctifying grace that we can choose to pursue.. until it is not I, but Christ. Christ in me and I in Him until… the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me. Gal.2:20
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